We started our second day bright and early, after a complimentary breakfast of croissants, pains au chocolat with butter and jam, and coffee for me of course. We made our way to the center of the city, through slightly touristy streets of shops of waffles and chocolate, restaurants serving mussels and fries, and Belgian bears, passed the Grand Place, and to the Sint-Hubertusgalerij, or Les Galeries Royales St. Hubert. These arcades were the first covered shopping streets in Europe (reminiscent of those of Milan, Paris and The Hague). Built in 1837 by architect Jean-Pierre Cluysenaar, this arcade is still one of the world’s most beautiful shopping centers. Here you’ll find a number of trendy boutiques, shops (Godiva chocolates anyone?) bars, restaurants and artsy bookshops. Definitely a place to wander and windowshop…
We walked down Rue du Midi and came across this adorable little restaurant called, “Les Gens que J’aime.” I love the mismatched letters that spell “j’aime” on the outside of the restaurant, and the mismatched wooden chairs and tables outside. This cute little place can be found 15-17 Rue du Midi/Zuidstraat.
On our way to Place Sablon, also known as Grote Zavel, we came across this cute little square of cafes and restaurants. One of these cafes is Cafe Novo, an idea place for coffee, lunch or a beer. It has cosy terraces in both the garden and on the square (pictured below). Cafe Novo can be found on Oud Korenhuis 37 (www.cafenovo.be), and is open Mondays through Fridays from 10.00 to midnight, and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to midnight.
The Sablon is one of the most prestigious and attractive areas in Brussels. In recent years it has become the center of the antiques shops and art galleries. Here you will also find the famous chocolatier Pierre Marcolini, said to be the best chocolate you will find in Brussels. The address of his shop is 1 rue de Minimes, Place du Grand Sablon (also visit the website).
From there we continued walking, past the Sablon church or church of Our Lady of the Victories to the park called “De kleine zavel/Le petit sablon.” This park is still surrounded by 48 little statues representing the medieval guilds of Brussels. A quite little oasis in the middle of the city, it was very green and the silence was appreciated by couples sitting on park benches.
From there we took the metro to the Schuman metro station to get to the Jubelpark, also called the Parc du Cinquantenaire. This metro station opened in 1969 and serves the European quarter of Brussels. The park was built by Leopold II to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Belgium’s independence in 1880, and the centerpiece, triumphal arc, was erected in 1905. There are several museums to visit (including the Royal Military Museum, the Art Museum and the AutoWorld Museum) or just enjoy the greenery of the massive park.
After a long day, we went back to the hotel to rest. At around 8pm, we decided to go out for mussels and fries… I just had to!